Everyone is already humming Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017′s jingle “Yeh dus saal aapke naam” (we dedicate these ten years to you). And why not? It has been entertaining us every summer with enthralling contests, and the start to the 10th edition was more or less the same. Defending champions, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) kicked off the six-week long event against last year’s runners-up Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at Hyderabad. The match saw the hosts prevail as an injury-hit RCB lived up to their slow starters’ tag. The second tie can be referred as the Maharashtra derby, as Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) take on two-time champions Mumbai Indians (MI) in their den. Full Cricket Scorecard: Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) vs Mumbai Indians (MI), IPL 2017, Match 2 at Pune
After going through several changes, RPS will commence their second IPL appearance versus Rohit Sharma‘s MI. RPS, for that matter, will be led by Steven Smith, who replaced MS Dhoni citing the fact that the side had finished seventh in its maiden campaign. On the other hand, MI couldn’t peak at the right time in 2016, thereby facing an exit before the playoffs. Both the teams will like to start afresh and take one game at a time. The head-to-head record stands at 1-1. Nonetheless, MI’s experience in IPL history gives them an edge, despite RPS playing at home.
RPS, in 2016, were marred by injuries in what turned out to be a forgettable campaign. Before the start of IPL 2017, they were haunted by the same crisis. Mitchell Marsh was ruled out of the event. Ravichandran Ashwin, owing to a long home Test season, withdrew his name citing fatigue. Kevin Pietersen will be seen donning the commentators’ hat instead of representing RPS. However, despite some superstars missing out, the franchise got hold of the big fish Ben Stokes for a whopping INR 14.5 crores at the auction.
With a new leader, there is also a slight change in name (from Supergiants to Supegiant). With new faces yet old woes (injuries and form), RPS will like to go the distance this time around. Ajinkya Rahane will open the innings along side South Africa’s Faf du Plessis (given Usman Khawaja has been out of action of late). Undoubtedly, Smith will come handy at No. 3.
The middle order will be essential in determining how RPS embark on a new season. Either Manoj Tiwary or Mayank Agarwal will bat at No. 4, followed by Dhoni, Stokes and Rajat Bhatia. Dhoni and Stokes will have to play according to the situation and use the long handle to good effect with a weak lower order at their disposal.
Bhatia, at No. 7, will be followed by either Adam Zampa or Imran Tahir. The side will miss the services of Ashwin and may have to take on the field with one spinner short. Tahir is likely to get the nod, owing to his experience and current form. The remaining slots will be filled by Ashok Dinda, Shardul Thakur and Jaydev Unadkat.
RPS have a fair bowling line-up but lack steam to control the flow of runs in death overs. They will be dependent on Stokes, Tahir and Bhatia’s medium pace to do the job, along with Dinda spearheading the pace battery.
RPS likely XI: Ajinkya Rahane, Faf du Plessis, Steven Smith (c), Manoj Tiwary, MS Dhoni (wk), Ben Stokes, Rajat Bhatia, Imran Tahir, Ashok Dinda, Jaydev Unadkat, Shardul Thakur
Now to Mumbai Indians…
MI have always been a force to reckon with. They primarily depend upon Rohit’s polished strokeplay, Keiron Pollard and Jos Buttler’s hard-hitting skills coupled with a fiery pace attack.
Parthiv Patel will open the innings along with Rohit to provide the left-right combination. Ambati Rayudu has earned lots of accolades for his consistent performances in the blue jersey. He has gone out of sorts to some extend, but still remains a vital cog in the their line-up. Rayudu will come in at No. 3, followed by Sourav Tiwary, Pollard and floater Krunal Pandya.
Tiwary’s inclusion adds more firepower to the batting order. He had a decent outing with the bat in the RPS camp last year. Pollard and Buttler will lead the last onslaught and allow the top order to play steadily by accelerating in the death overs. MI have enough firepower in the lower order with Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell McClenaghan capable of sending the ball over the ropes. Jasprit Bumrah will be the last man, coming in at 11.
MI have a better bowling line-up with the likes of Harbhajan, McClenaghan, Johnson and Bumrah. Nonetheless, except Bumrah, the remaining three have not played much in the recent past. Termed as the old powerhouses Harbhajan and Johnson will have to pull up their socks from game one. Lasith Malinga will be a tough name to strike out, but the axe may fall on him owing to other pacers’ hitting skills and his minimal appearance since international return.
MI likely XI: Parthiv Patel, Rohit Sharma (c), Ambati Rayudu, Krunal Pandya, Sourav Tiwary, Jos Buttler (wk), Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jasprit Bumrah
It is tough to predict a winner when a new season has just started. Both the teams look fairly well on paper, but the overall experience gives Rohit-led MI a slight edge. Nonetheless, IPL 2016′s opening clash played between these two sides saw RPS emerge victorious. Above all, MI also take time to get in the groove. Experience and exposure mak MI firm favourites, but RPS will like to brush aside all these factors on a dicey Pune track.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Parthiv Patel (wk), Nicholas Pooran (wk), Krishnappa Gowtham (wk), Ambati Rayudu (wk), Lendl Simmons (wk), Kulwant Khejroliya, Karn Sharma, Saurabh Tiwary, Asela Gunaratne, Mitchell Johnson, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell McClenaghan, Shreyas Gopal, Siddhesh Lad, Vinay Kumar, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Tim Southee, Lasith Malinga, Jagadeesha Suchith, Nitish Rana, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Jitesh Sharma, Deepak Punia
Rising Pune Supergiant: Steven Smith (c), MS Dhoni, Mayank Agarwal, Baba Aparajith, Ankush Bains, Ankit Sharma, Rajat Bhatia, Deepak Chahar, Daniel Christian, Rahul Chahar, Ashok Dinda, Faf du Plessis, Lockie Ferguson. Usman Khawaja, Jaskaran Singh, Saurabh Kumar, Ben Stokes, Milind Tandon, Manoj Tiwary, Jaydev Unadkat, Adam Zampa